What's the best way to face down the demons of Will Gardner? Become him.
The Good WifeAirtime: Sundays, 9 pm
Cast: Julianna Margulies, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Christine Baranski, Cush Jumbo, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Subtitle: Season 7, Episode 16 - "Hearing"
Air date: 2016-03-06
"All I want is to be of use".
Even at its worst, The Good Wife can't help itself from stumbling into greatness. You have to wait until the final 10 minutes or so of this seventh season's 16th episode, "Hearing", to get there, but when you get there … my goodness, you get there.
It comes when Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) is sitting across the lunch table from Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) and Diane, despite the wildly hot-and-cold dynamic their relationship has, essentially comes to Alicia and asks her to step up as The Other Partner in her law firm. Nobody wants to dismiss Cary (Matt Czuchry), of course, but, to paraphrase Diane's words ... well, he just doesn't have what it takes.
Will Gardner (Josh Charles), on the other hand, did have what it took, and Diane misses that. "I want someone I can work across from who I respect," she tells the governor's wife, "who I think can outrace me."
I'll never be able to tell if it's Julianna Margulies's moment of perfect acting or if it's the overly complicated, never-ending saga that the Alicia Florrick character has endured over nearly seven full seasons now, but man: whatever she went for, she nailed. So much so that I still can't figure out if she trusted Diane, if she realized this was something she wanted all along, if she weighed the pros and cons of her relationship with Cary, if she was sad, if she was excited, if she was flattered, if she was insulted, if she was … I mean, I just don't know.
It comes as the brightest spot in an episode where bright spots didn't come quite as often as I would prefer. The Grand Jury Investigation To End All Grand Jury Investigations is the horse that this series is going to ride all the way until the trip is complete, and this week only furthered that reality. People are beginning to be called to testify in the investigation of Peter Florrick (Chris Noth).
Everybody’s still pretty much in the dark as to what's going on and why it's happening, so, in an admittedly low-rent (but occasionally entertaining) bit, Alicia discovers that you can hear everything going on in the courtroom through a vent in the handicapped bathroom. She tells Eli (Alan Cumming) as much, and this is precisely the kind of catnip that someone as slimy (in a good way) as Eli can't resist.
This charade takes up a lot of the episode's meat, complete with smart vocal effects on the voices in the conversations to let us hear what Eli can and cannot hear. It eventually boils down to "V lock," and that's about it. No, honestly. That's the only real clue given this week. Eli runs to Cary to ask him about it near the end of the episode, but he then stops himself when he realizes everyone is going to be subpoenaed and whatever they're talking about can get everyone in trouble. The problem is that nobody really knows what Peter did and therefore, nobody really knows what might be coming.
Elsewhere, Alicia's mom, Veronica (Stockard Channing), and brother, Owen (Dallas Roberts), drop by if only to say goodbye to us all. They barge in on Alicia during a lost weekend she planned with Jason (the increasingly shirtless Jeffrey Dean Morgan), where they have a bunch of sex, sit around in various states of undress, eat ice cream, talk "honestly" (as if that's even a possibility), and order what looked like a pretty great New York-style pizza. Turns out Veronica has been Madoff-ed (a term that kind of/sort of feels dated): she's swindled out of a bunch of money, and she wants it back. Jason, honestly charming as hell, agrees to help out and look into the matter. We'll let you figure out if all was well by the end of the episode.
What's really important here is how comfortable Alicia seems with Jason. Even when we've seen her retreat back to Peter, or, well, find another Will (what's up, Matthew Goode and Finn Polmar?!), we've never felt as though she was moving forward. She had a type. She was used to that type. Nothing ever felt fresh.
Jason, though, is just a little different. I mean, she asked him why he was investigating her (remember how ominous that felt?), and he stuck to the reasons we heard before -- he was working for her, he wanted to know who he was working for, etc. Making things even more interesting is the very real fact that it's actually hard not to believe him when he says what he says (note to the writers: if Jason turns out to be a bad guy, that would be one hell of a twist). You root for them because, still, you root for her. Alicia ending up with Jason for good, through all the escapades we've seen, seems like the best, most natural outcome.
It all brings us back to the end, where Alicia and Diane had their soiree. Because for once, Alicia's Object Of Affection isn't Will (or a reasonable facsimile thereof). When Diane tells her that she's the only one who could truly fill Will's shoes, it makes you think: maybe this is the only true way Alicia can put the Will Gardner part of her life to rest. It's not like they weren't an awful lot alike -- I still contend that part of the reason Will got so mad at her as his time on the show was winding down was because he knew that he, too, could be guilty of all the things Alicia was doing -- and maybe, just maybe the only way for her to fill his shoes is to actually walk in them.
So, when Diane asks Alicia what it is she wants, and Alicia says, "I want to be of service", maybe she's beginning to know now that most of all, she needs to be of service to herself. Partnering up with Diane appears that it might just be the missing piece she's required to say goodbye to the ghost of Will Gardner for good.
Approaching The Bench
Nope. Sorry. Every time I see Mike Tascioni (Will Patton), all it makes me do is think, "This would be so much better with Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston)". I get it. You're trying to make him appear charming and weird and aloof like his ex-wife, but you can't replace the original. Never. There's no reason she shouldn't be there.
While it was nice to see Owen and Veronica one last time … well … again, here’s my list of characters I’m going to keep a running tab on between now and the final episode to see if they make one final appearance (because if they don’t, I’m writing a nasty letter to CBS): Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox). Zach Florrick (Graham Phillips). Finn Polmar (Matthew Goode). Jackie Florrick (Mary Beth Piel), Lemond Bishop (Mike Colter), Glenn Childs (Titus Welliver), Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole), Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker), Wendy Scott-Car (Anika Noni Rose), Natalie Flores (America Ferrera), Frank Prady (David Hyde Pierce), Judge George Fluger, Derrick Bond (Michael Ealy), Robyn Burdine (Jess Weixler), Clarke Hayden (Nathan Lane), Nancy Crozier (Mamie Gummer), and Reese Dipple (Oliver Platt). Again, I’ll be keeping track.
Eli on Ruth Eastman (Margo Martindale): "How can she hurt us? In ways you can't even imagine."
When The Good Wife wants to be funny, The Good Wife can be funny. That entire 15-minute opening sequence was so much a comedy of errors that it could have been seen on a Friday night ABC series in the 1990s.
Speaking of that, it really struck me how charming and welcoming Jason was to Alicia's family (and conversely, how much they were all taken with him). Man, there's something about that character and something about Jeffrey Dean Morgan. All he has to do is flash that three-quarter smile and he could sell an anchor to a sinking ship. Plus, the way he stood up for Veronica was just sweet. Simply just sweet.
Did I miss something or why would Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) be making more money if Alicia partners with Diane? Diane made it clear that she wasn't explicitly looking to start an all-women firm; she was just looking to partner with Alicia because she thought Alicia had what it takes. Why Alicia would tell Lucca that she might make more money because of this is beyond me.
That said, does anyone really believe Lucca isn't going to go tell Cary all of that?
So, if Grace (Makenzie Vega) was with her dad for that initial lost weekend, where was she when they attempted to do it again?
I'm telling you: my prediction on how this is going to end not only continues to hold up, but it also furthers in probability each week. If they are playing out Peter's troubles like this for the rest of the way -- and they’re willing to blow an entire episode with Eli standing on a garbage can listening to testimony -- it's all going to lead to him standing at the podium, resigning as governor, Alicia standing next to him, and so on and so forth. Don't hate.
Crazy Prediction Of The Week: Lucca and Cary are actually already married, Jason turns out to be working for Glenn Childs (Titus Welliver), and eventually shows up at Alicia's door with a lion.